Darryl Rouson Ousted as Next Democratic Leader of the Florida House

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: September 23, 2013 9:50 PM
Darryl Rouson

Darryl Rouson

The Democratic minority in the Florida House met behind closed doors in Tallahassee on Monday night to oust Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who was scheduled to become caucus leader after next year’s elections, from the leadership.

Rouson garnered the support of 17 members of the Democratic caucus, but 24 voted against his becoming the next leader. Three House Democrats did not attend the Monday night meeting.

In recent weeks, Rouson has waged a public feud with Allison Tant, chairwoman of the Florida Democrats, over an affiliated party committee he ran for Democratic House candidates. Rouson eventually backed down after Tant fired two party staffers who knew about his leadership fund committee.

Even as late as Monday, Rouson had harsh words for Tant’s leadership, jabbing the Florida Democrats in an interview with the Miami Herald for poor fundraising and failing to vet Allie Braswell, the state CFO candidate who pulled out days after he jumped in the race following news of his personal bankruptcies.

Having jumped over from the GOP to the Democrats before running for the Florida House, Rouson has never been on solid ground as the next Democratic House leader. Rouson defeated Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville, to become the next incoming House speaker by a 2 vote margin after a tied first ballot and several of his colleagues sent emails urging his ouster after current House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, D-Ft. Lauderdale, called for Monday’s meeting earlier this month.

House Democrats will meet again on Wednesday to name a replacement for Rouson. Among the names being bandied about are: Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa; Jones; Rep, Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach; and Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.

Republicans had a field day with the continuing turmoil in the Democratic ranks.

"Is Allison Tant leading the charge to purge her party's incoming House leader because he did a better job at fundraising than she did?” asked Lenny Curry on Monday night. “Is this how desperate the Florida Democratic Party is for $147,000? Does the Florida Democratic Party engage in open civil war with its
elected officials when they get embarrassed?”

Curry quoted Rouson’s comparison of the Florida Democrats to a “failed bank” that he made in the interview with the Miami Herald.

“The Florida Democratic Party isn't just a 'failing bank.' They are a failed party in permanent disarray, with no positive policy agenda to offer Floridians," Curry said.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or follow him on Twitter at @KevinDerbySSN

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10:37AM SEP 24TH 2013

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